Thursday, February 16, 2012

Please, Just Sing!

A national Gospel Music conference begins here in Jacksonville today. It will meet for the next several days.

I have not been invited to speak at this conference. In fact, it would be a safe bet that virtually no one who will attend this conference even knows that something called H.B. Charles, Jr. exists.

But I have something important to say to the hundreds, maybe thousands of Gospel music artists and attendees who are influenced by their recordings. I have a message to deliver. I have a class to teach. I have a word to give.

Here it is: Please, please, just sing!

I say this in the most loving way I can say something that really irks me. Please, for God’s sake, just sing!

I do not know who started this trend in Gospel Music. And I do not know who popularized it. But I am begging someone to take a stand and stop it. Anyone, start a new trend by just getting up and singing.

It is not edifying for singers to get up and talk before they sing. You don’t need to introduce yourself. You don’t need to tell us to praise the Lord (We will if you sing!). And you don’t need to mention your project or material that is available (That goes for preachers, too. We deserve a post entitled, Please, Just Preach!”) Just sing.

And it is most definitely not edifying for you to talk during the song! If you wrote the song but cannot sing, let the singers sing. Don’t compensate for your inability to sing by talking through the whole song, or worse, talking over the people who are actually singing. You know who you are!

This is called “music,” isn’t it? Then sing it. If you want to preach or exhort or whatever, then acknowledge your calling, get some training, and be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

I am targeting Gospel artists, because what you do on you records has great influence on what local church musicians, directors, choirs, and soloists do. It shouldn’t be that way. It may be better if hymnals – representing music that has stood the test of time – have more influence. But it is what it is. However, you can at least use your power for good. Don’t just think about how many CDs you can sell. Think about those who are influenced by what you record.

To be fair, there is a place for spoken communication in music ministry (Col. 3:16). Exhortations and encouragements are fine. But much of the talkativeness seems to be unprocessed, insensitive, and not helpful.

When I was a boy preacher, my dad taught me to do what you are asked to do. If they ask you to pray, pray. Don’t sing. If they ask you to read the scripture, read the scripture. Don’t give a sermonette on it. People may not be impressed with you, he said, if you just do what you were asked to do. But they will respect you. And you may get an opportunity to do more at a later date. I still think this is good advice.

So, please, just sing. Is that asking too much?